Online Social Networking and Your Children

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Online Social Networking and Your Children
Lisa Holt

Online social networking (Twitter, Facebook, etc) has brought a totally different element into many of our lives.  We can be social 24/7, and with today’s smart phones, we can be social anywhere we go.  Our online friends will never know we are standing naked in our bathrooms “talking” to them.  Online social networking has renewed old flames, reconnected school mates that we haven’t spoken to since our high school graduation, as well as kept family members across the continents updated on their lives, careers and family including photos.  Yes, online social networking is an amazing networking tool.  As adults, it’s fun to play on the online social networking sites, but for our children this is serious business.  Depending on their personality online social networks can be a dangerous place.  There are people out there with sinister intentions that will “ask” to be your child’s online friend and can find out all the information they need to make personal contact with them.  It also creates a different kind of peer pressure as far as how many “friends” a person has or if they are “friends” with the right people.  And it can create an atmosphere of cyber-bullies.  Very similar to the school yard bullies of days gone by, but much more dangerous as their comments, pictures, and videos have the ability to go viral and can destroy a young teen’s self-esteem. We’ve all heard the stories of teen suicides as a result of a child being victim of a cyber-bully.  Not to frighten you as parents, but we need to be aware of our children’s online social networking activities.  Many adults make the comment: “Oh, I don’t have time for online social networking.” My question is: “Do you have children?” Because if you have children, you need to be aware this is their world, and if you want to know what’s going on in your child’s life, I highly recommend you find time for social networking and join their world for their sake.